Hot Shots II
The Beta Band’s Hot Shots II is the seven-layer burrito of a musical opus, complete with wind chimes, xylophone, Nintendo eight-bit tings, spouting water, church bells and a lot of raspy guitar to meld all the goodness together.
After 1997 and 1998 spawned three preliminary EPs for the Edinburgh Four, their self-titled full-length collapsed to critics’ scorn. “At times, it sounds like a bad comedy record,” said Brit-rock bible New Music Express. Like a big-beat record flipped down just a notch, Hot Shots II relies heavily on systematic repetition of catch phrases. But unlike Fat Boy Slim's base “funk soul rocker” edict, the Scottish lads use words that move rather than move with words. It’s a perception thing. “Squares” reminds listeners from the start that the album is all over the musical map with a Parisian hand organ mixed with piano, live strings and addicting G4-bred bass. “Human Being” begins with Euro-folky quaintness, then changes into a purdy little break-beat electro number, while ultimately ambling into Led Zeppelin 4‘s rhythm section with a Jefferson Airplane acid-propelled organ to boot. Hot Shots II stuffs listeners full with its endless barrage of sonic wow. Even the ill-placed UK hip-hop ditty “Won” keeps it kind of real with its crafty Harry Nilsson sample. The album surely makes listeners question Radiohead’s dominance on the Isles. No wonder Thom and the boyz chose the Betas as their touring bitches.
Truly addicting for those stuck in menial office jobs, online journals, or Blogs (named after the largest journal host Blogger), offers slices of life from Stockholm to Stockton from the likes of grad students to grape growers. I discovered blogs from a friend who pointed me toward the wisco blog (http://www.ringsurf.com/netring?ring=wiscoblogs;action=list). As a person who enjoys the written word, Blogs give me the opportunity to share or peruse a slew of random, sometimes good, sometimes not so good, writing styles that ultimately enhance my pen. If writing isn’t your bag, reading journals still offers a running commentary about such ubiquitous subjects as love, loneliness, boredom and kickball. And, hey, you may even make some cyber-friends in the process — but don’t push it beyond words. That’s just weird.
Blog of the Week
(BOTW will remain as a weekly feature in Shout Outs. Send all suggestions to [email protected])
“At first we cannot see the path that leads downward to the dark and hateful things — but no light or beauty will ever come from the man who cannot bear this sight. Light is always born of darkness, and the sun never yet stood in the heaven to satisfy man’s longing or still his fears.
Did I mention that I like pancakes? Especially the ones at Center Street Cafe in Jamaica Plain. The best.” [www.eliotwilder.com]